Is not the root of spiritual passion God?
In Nehemiah’s case,was it not God that established spiritual passion in his heart for the rebuilding of Jerusalem? To begin this work in Nehemiah’s life,God first revealed to Nehemiah the ruinous condition of Jerusalem. With this revelation,God linked Jerusalem’s ruinous condition with an inaccurate testimony of God’s glory in the earth. The passion in God’s very heart (to restore His beloved city) became the passion of Nehemiah’s life.
In truth,Nehemiah did nothing to create this passion;the genesis of his passion was God. Nehemiah was,however,a man who listened to and responded to the nudge and call of God. In doing so,his new found passion prompted him to join God in the passion of His heart – Jerusalem.
I wonder does God still work this way in the lives of his people. Are we too busy trying to create passion that we fail to simply present ourselves to God in order to be captured by His passion for this season of our lives?
The two disciples that talked and walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus had a similar experience. Was it not their contact with Jesus that caused their hearts to burn with spiritual passion? They weren’t the source of their heavenly heartburn,Jesus was.
Likewise,it was God who planted His Word so deeply in Jeremiah’s heart that he remarked it was like having fire “shut up in his bones.” Now that’s passion and God was its source!
What about love?
In the three cases above,I believe love for God was what prompted all to allow God to establish His passion in their lives. Nehemiah fell deeply in love with a God who wanted to restore a city so His name would be great in the earth. Nehemiah’s love moved him to obedience which was the outward picture of the spiritual passion burning in his heart.
The two disciples fell deeply in love with a risen Savior who was establishing His church so the world could know who He is. Their love for this Savior prompted them to faithful obedience which,again,served as an outward demonstration of the passion burning in their hearts.
Jeremiah fell deeply in love with a God who wanted His people to stop prostituting themselves with foreign gods and idols. His love for God prompted him to faithful obedience which,like the others,showed outwardly the passion of his heart.
So how does this prompting love increase in our lives?
I like what Philippians 1:9-10 has to say. The love God wants each of to grow in is a love that actively seeks the benefit of others. In light of our discussion on spiritual passion,I believe the increase of such love also applies to our love for God and His purposes in the earth (MT 6:33).
To me,this growing,ever-increasing love is what fuels my growing passion for the things of God. As I fall more deeply in love with God,my passion for the things of God increases. I have also learned that as this passion increases in my life,I am more easily led,by God,into the will of God for my life. It could be said that when our passions are godly,God can use them to more fully lead us towards His perfect will for our lives.
Is this increasing love accomplished by God our by us?
Love,of course,is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. As such it is something only God can produce in the humble heart that desires its presence. The word “abound” in the Philippians passage is a subjunctive verb. This denotes a repeated action that is contingent upon some existing condition. Could this pre-existing condition be a life that is not quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit? If the Holy Spirit is not being quenched or grieved in a believer’s life,God’s divine love will naturally and “all by itself” abound and increase.
This love can abound again and again because divine love never reaches a saturation point. Further,as God’s love fuels our desires and passions,we begin to grow in spiritual knowledge,insight and discernment. These three things help us live with a keener sense of God’s will,purpose,timing and call on our lives. This is exemplified again in Nehemiah,the two disciples and Jeremiah. As their love for God grew,their insight into the heart of God also grew. This increase in insight,discernment and knowledge served as a catalyst God used to further inspire their spiritual passion for the very things resonating in His heart.
What if passion for the things of God is still lacking in my life?
Good news! Such passion is not lacking in God and He wants to initiate more of it in all of us. We can’t create spiritual passion,but we can allow God to work His passion into us. Moses didn’t create his passion for the Israelites’ freedom,God did! Paul didn’t create his passion for a fledgling,young church,God did. Esther didn’t create her passion to save her fellow citizens from Mordecai’s evil machinations,God did.
So it is with us;God will create His passion in us as we grow more deeply in love with Him. Spiritual passion comes from God and it is formed in the incubator of our relationship with Him.
So,as I see it,our part isn’t to seek passion;it’s to seek God who gives us His passion. Our part isn’t to abound in love;it’s to seek God who gives us more and more of His abounding love. Our part isn’t to attain greater insight,knowledge and discernment;it’s to seek God who can increase these things in us. As Jesus said,“First,seek God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you.”
The condition of my character is more important to God than the list of my accomplishments. And while God is surely interested in my public ministry,He is more concerned with the integrity of my personal life. This is why God is so focused on the cultivation of His fruit in my life. I’m not suggesting the gifts of the Spirit are unimportant;rather,that their proper use and effectiveness are contingent upon the character I’ve first allowed the Holy Spirit to fashion in me.
I think you would agree that we hear more about the “gifts of the Spirit” than we do about the “fruit of the Spirit.” I wonder why? Could it be that gifts are easier to talk about? Are they seen as being more exciting? Regardless of the answer,the subject of “fruitfulness” ranks as one of the most crucial in the life of the believer.
Spiritual gifts equip us for ministry but spiritual fruit forms the bedrock of our moral fiber. When our character is sound we become vessels through which God’s gifts more purely operate. Gifts reveal the ability of God,but fruit reveals the attributes of God.
As some read Galatians 5:22,they incorrectly assume the fruit of the Spirit is distributed to people in the same way as spiritual gifts. This is not so! The gifts,according to 1 Corinthians 12:11,are given “as God wills.” As a result,no one individual will obtain every spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:29-30).
However,Paul stresses that all nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are to operate in every believer. We are not,therefore,given the option to pick and choose which fruits most interest us. The text is clear —in order to biblically bear fruit,all nine component of Galatians 5:22 are to be seen in our lives.
Jesus reminded us that a tree is “known by its fruit” (Mt. 12:33). The purity,or lack thereof,of every human being is shown by the fruit (outcome) of his or her life. Even the best produce department can’t disguise rotten fruit. No matter how shiny or well displayed an apple may be,if it is soft,mushy and full of worms,the discriminating shopper will discover it. Good fruit can’t be faked either. The fruit of our lives,whether good or bad,will be recognized by all.
In his book,The Fruit of the Spirit,John Sanderson writes,“We have many yardsticks for measuring Christian greatness,but the fruit of the Spirit is not high on the list. We seem to prefer other kinds of greatness. Yet Scriptures place the highest value on the fruit.” He’s right! The Bible makes it abundantly clear that fruitfulness is the best measurement for genuine Christianity.
Some may ask,“What does it mean to bear the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?” It means the fruit is of the Spirit and not of the flesh. People can train themselves to act in certain ways;however,these learned responses are mere external measures designed to temporarily alter actions or modify behavior. Such modifications never correct the condition of the heart. But as one bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit,there is the accompanying certainty that one’s life has been and is being divinely transformed.
Oswald Chambers once wrote,“The call of God is essentially expressive of His nature.” Only when the fruit of the Spirit is a reality in my life will this high calling be realized. This is exactly what Jesus was getting at when He said,“Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Mt. 7:16). We shall be clearly seen and known as Christ followers when we manifest the nature of God’s Spirit in our lives.
Is your life revealing the nature of God? More specifically,is God’s love,joy,peace,patience,kindness,goodness,gentleness and self-control evident in you? Does your wife or husband see it? What about your children? Do your co-workers recognize it?
As we close,let’s do a quick review. First,God is more concerned with our fruitfulness than He is with our giftedness. Second,all nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are to be manifest in our lives. Third,the fruit of the Spirit comes from God,not our flesh. Finally,bearing the fruit of the Spirit is a part of God’s high calling on our lives.
Any orchard owner will tell you saplings don’t bear good fruit,only mature trees do. So,let us go on to maturity,bearing the fruit of the Spirit and,simultaneously,revealing God to a watching world.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures,speaks in our conscience,but shouts in our pain:it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (C.S. Lewis).
Pain can be good. What? No really,the Holy Spirit has,on many occasions,used pain to start the transformation process in my life. I know this about me – I will very rarely change without first being uncomfortable.
Our modern world tells us pain should be avoided at all costs. As Americans we’ve been told the pursuit of personal happiness (the absence of pain) is the quest of all quests. Happiness is the prevailing philosophy of our time. This explains why so many people struggle to see pain as useful or beneficial. Pain,in the hands of a loving God,can be an effective tool in rousing us to transformed living.
Recently,I visited with a father who shared with me the emotional pain he’d knowingly carried for years. His pain was connected to the scarring actions of his mother and father. For years,God had tried to speak to him through his pain but he consistently turned a deaf ear. Instead of restoration and freedom,he watched an impenetrable wall of bitterness form between him and his parents and between him and God.
When he began to rightly respond to his pain,he began to hear God’s voice of hope and moved toward healing. In time,this hardened man chose to forgive his parents for the pain they’d caused in his life. With this new freedom,he also stopped causing pain in his own family. God uses pain. He uses it to get our attention and to call us to a new place of honesty,healing and wholeness.
Learn this valuable lesson —pain can be your friend. As an instrument in God’s hands,it can bring a self-willed sinner to a new place of freedom.
Several years ago,I conducted the funeral of a very close friend. We had known Jo Ann for only seven short years but our lives have been continually enriched by our special memories of her. While preparing my remarks for her service,I began to reflect upon Jo Ann’s life and asked myself,“What was Jo Ann’s life statement?” In a short time a crystal-clear answer began to form concerning that question. I believe Jo Ann’s life statement could be reduced to the following phrase:“Simply live,simply love and simply serve.”
The word “simple” has many meanings,most of which are positive. When I consider the life of Christ,I notice the following positive definitions of the word simple. He was uncomplicated,free from guile,honest,pure,without distraction and focused.
Keeping life simple is not only liberating it is also biblical. In Mark 6:8-9,Jesus instructed His disciples to “Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread,no bag,no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.” In other words,live life simply. Too often superficiality and commerciality distract the followers of Jesus Christ. Our lives,according to the Bible,are like a vapor,or the morning fog;we’re here for a moment and then gone. We must,then,live to make the most of every minute,every relationship and every opportunity we are given.
We must simplify our lives in order to make more time for our children. Simpler lives lead to longer walks with friends and deeper conversations with parents. Don’t waste your time on the empty promises of wealth,prominence and fame. Focus your affections on matters that are eternally significant – Simply Live!
In Luke 6:32-36,Jesus commands us to love. Simply love! We’re told to love both our friends and our enemies. The older I get the more convinced I become that love is not as complex as I try to make it. The Bible supports this notion when it straightforwardly reminds us love is not selfish,rude or haughty. Rather,love is patient,forgiving and kind;it encourages and builds up. Jesus simply said,“Love.” Love your friends —love your enemies! And when we love,in this simple way,others will know that we are,indeed,His disciples. Simply Love!
In John 13:12-15,we witness the humility of Jesus as he washed the feet of His friends. As we consider the selfless,benevolent example of Christ we should be motivated to respond similarly to those around us. We are to serve others freely,without preferential pretense. Like Christ,our service to others is to be wholehearted and pure. When I contemplate the filth that Christ has removed from my feet,I am more willing to selflessly wash the feet of others. Simply serve!
With a simpler perspective on life,I am freed to live a life that truly matters. Once again I say “thanks” to my dear friend Jo Ann,whose life continues to teach me how to stay focused on the matters of God’s kingdom. Following her example,I will simply live,simply love and simply serve!
“All the days of the afflicted are evil:but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”
Who are the “afflicted?” In pondering that question,a flood of ideas raced though my head. I recalled how each one of us is born “afflicted” due to the sinful disposition we inherited from Adam. Sadly,many people remain in this state because they never receive the forgiveness and healing available to them through Jesus Christ. Consequently,they forfeit a heavenly hope to sustain them beyond an earthly grave. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the only remedy for the afflicted hearts of fallen humanity.
I thought of moms and dads who’ve been deeply wounded by the hardships of life or by the destructive aberrant decisions and actions of their children. I think of families facing the uncertainties and fears of life-threatening illnesses. I think of husbands and wives who’ve lost their life-long friends in each other. I think of the single mothers and fathers who are so overwhelmed with life they have no idea of what to do or where to turn.
In this passage,the word “afflicted,” conveys the idea of “depression.” More specifically,it describes one who is “downcast” or “browbeaten” by the injuries of life. I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I’ve been “downcast’ and “browbeaten” by life. I have walked through dark valleys where it was difficult to even lift my head let alone believe that God could change my situation. However,looking back,I realize it was during those “valley times” I was taught the invaluable lesson that no matter what,as a child of God,I have a standing invitation to continually feast at the banqueting table of the Lord. The psalmist reminds me that God,even in the midst of my enemies,“prepares a table before me” (Psalm 23:5).
Many times the adverse circumstances of my life have appeared to be bigger than God. Further,they have seemed to possess the power to nullify His promises. But this simply is not so! One of the first things I do when facing life’s looming giants is sing. One of the first choruses to come to mind is one that reminds me of the limitless ability of God:
He is able,more than able
To accomplish what concerns me today
He is able,more than able
To handle anything that comes my way
He is able,more than able
To do much more than I could ever dream
He is able,more than able
To make me what He wants me to be
( c1989 Maranatha Music:Rory Noland and Greg Ferguson)
Great strength and comfort are mine when I remember the simple fact that GOD IS ABLE. It is faith in God’s ability that lifts my head and causes me to look to Him. He alone is my help! Only God can hold yesterday,today and tomorrow all at the same time. When I live in the present-tense reality of this fact,my afflicted and fainting heart is at once renewed with a heaven-born hope.
The opposite of an afflicted heart is a merry heart. What exactly is a “merry heart?” A merry heart is a heart filled with the peace and joy of God. It is a heart completely at rest in His sovereign hands. A merry heart is a heart that has found serenity in the calming assurance of a Savior;a Savior Who not only promises eternal life in a day to come but also promises abundant life in the here and now.
A “merry heart” does not imply some surreal state marked by spiritual giddiness nor does it suggest the absence of difficulty or strain. Rather,it implies that God’s children,regardless of what they face in life,can be certain that all is well because God is God and He can be trusted implicitly.
Everyone who names Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord,is invited by God,no matter the circumstance,to sit at His table for a “continual feast.” In the Hebrew language,this phrase indicates a state of “continual refreshment.” Figuratively,this verse suggests that in the face of life’s most difficult situations,God’s children can pull up their chairs to His banqueting table to be refreshed in heart,soul,mind and strength. Furthermore,they can do so on a continual basis. King Solomon wrote,“He has taken me to his banquet hall,and His banner over me is love” (Song of Songs 2:4). The love of the Lord is deep and His ways are gracious.
Will you allow the Lord to lift your downcast head,refresh your barren life and bring peace to your afflicted soul? God has prepared a special place at His table just for you. Will you take your seat? The Apostle Paul wrote that “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19) come to those who repent and return to the Lord. Will you turn from the distractions of life that afflict your heart and find your place at the Lord’s Table of refreshment?
The Lord awaits your arrival. The Lord says “Come.”
This is the copy of a prayer we used at the end of a recent Sunday morning service. I hope it gives voice to your desires as you grow in your relationship with Christ.
God,I choose to see the hope in my CONFLICT. Today,I choose to allow that conflict to turn my eyes to You.
God,I choose to thank you for my CRISIS. I choose to stop fighting You for control of my life. I choose to surrender;I choose to give up!
God,I choose to COMMIT to the process of Your healing change in my life. I give you the good,the bad and the ugly places in me. Come rule in every part of my life.
God,I chose to CONFESS I am my biggest problem. I choose to stop blaming everyone else for my problems and pain. I repent of my pride,my anger,my resentment,my fear,my bitterness,my lies and my manipulation.
God,I choose to embrace Your promise of CHANGE. Like Jacob,if I need to limp for the rest of my life,that’s okay. I choose to let my weakness reveal Your power. Change me now!
I pray this in Jesus’ name,Amen!
In 1988,my wife and I decided it was time to start our family. But for two long years we wondered if that was ever going to happen. One evening,while enjoying the stillness of what I called my Jamie Room,the Lord revealed to me that a new baby was going to require me to give up that room so it could become a nursery. The thought had never crossed my mind and the prospect was a bit disturbing. Why,this room belongs to me,I distinctly remember thinking.
I knew God was preparing to challenge my selfishness as we prayed more diligently for a baby. In time,it became clear to me what God was requiring – I would have to relinquish my room so it could transition from Jamie’s Room to Baby’s Room. Some transitions are harder than others.
In little ways we began to establish a nursery. We bought little baby knick-knacks and trinkets and placed them around the room. We also began relocating my stuff to other rooms in the house. It was a long,tedious process of dying to self. Believe it or not,within weeks we learned we were pregnant.
It was during this period in my life that I became acquainted with a wonderful story in the book of Second Kings. It seems King Joram,King Jehoshaphat and the King of Edom had joined their forces to battle the King of Moab who had recently reneged on a livestock deal he’d made with Joram’s father.
Seven days into their battle journey the three kings realized they had not packed enough water to sustain their military conquest. In desperation,the cynical,godless Joram declared,“What! Has the Lord called us three kings together to hand us over to Moab?” In other words,“It’s just like God to strand us out here in the dessert so we can be sitting ducks for the army of Moab.” Joram serves as an example of how sneering and suspicious a man can become when he blatantly disregards God.
Jehoshaphat,conversely,had the presence of mind and humility of heart to ask,“Is there no prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of the Lord through him?” Jehoshaphat’s inclination wasn’t to blame God for their predicament but,instead,to inquire of God as to what they should do.
These kings were desperate and needed water immediately. If the water didn’t materialize it was game over. Have you been there? Have you desperately needed something only God could supply? In time they learned the prophet Elisha was among them and he was quickly summoned to a meeting.
In his fiery style,Elisha rebuked the godless Joram and noted he wouldn’t even give him the time of day if it weren’t for Jehoshaphat standing there. After a few more pleasantries Elisha agreed to inquire of the Lord on their behalf. After instructing a musician to play,Elisha began hearing the word of the Lord. I suspect the three kings anticipated Elisha’s words to sound grand,lofty and King James like in tone. But to their amazement,Elisha’s words were mundane,practical and straight to the point,“This is what the Lord says:Make this valley full of ditches.”
I can just hear Joram’s sarcastic response,“Dig a ditch? You’ve got to be kidding me. So now God wants us to exhaust the little strength we have left by having us dig in the sand?” But Jehoshaphat knew this was the word of the Lord and they began digging ditches. Once the ditches were dug,it appears the men simply went to bed and waited for the morning. When they awoke,the valley,and the ditches they had dug,were full of water. God had miraculously met their need.
So why did they dig ditches? The ditches provided a place of reservoir where God’s life-sustaining water could be poured. The ditches retained the water and kept it from being quickly absorbed into the barren dessert floor.
I learned a number of different things from this story. I learned about a God who desires to meet my greatest needs and about a God who calls me,by faith,to engage in the process by preparing to receive what He longs to send.
When I began asking God to send us a baby,He first told me to dig a ditch. Digging a ditch meant I had to cut-away some of the selfishness in my heart. Digging a ditch meant I had to give up my room in preparation for His coming blessing. I’ve never forgotten that lesson.
How about you? Are you in a place of need? I wonder,is God telling you to dig a ditch? Don’t be cynical like Joram;instead,like Jehoshaphat,ask God what you should do. Once he speaks,obey Him and,in faith, prepare yourself for His coming answer. After you’ve done what He’s told you to do,simply rest in His promise anticipating His perfect supply.
Go dig a ditch!
A believer’s salvation is a threefold reality:justification regards his past;sanctification regards his present;and glorification regards his future.
To better understand justification,I would suggest looking at Romans 5:1. The word “therefore,” causes us to look back at several previous issues Paul has noted. The most important of these is found in Chapter Four. Here Paul notes that justification,which brings a sinful human being peace with God,is not by works (1-8),not by ordinances (9-12),not by obedience to the Law (13-15),but by faith (16-25).
The word “justified” means “to be declared innocent.” It refers to a one-time action in the past. The term is a legal one denoting an individual’s standing before God. The word “faith” used in this passage (5:1) refers to “personal trust,reliance upon,and profession of.” This reliance or trust,of course,is in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Remember,it was there Christ declared,“It is finished.” Upon His death,Christ became the propitiation for our sin;this substitutionary death of Christ provided,“once and for all,” justification for the sinner who calls upon and believes on the name of Jesus Christ.
Paul goes on to write that those who are “justified” by faith have “peace” with God. The word “peace” is in the present-tense indicating something a believer presently holds. The word literally means to “bind together something which has been separated.” Colossians 1:20 reminds us that through him [Christ],God reconciled us to himself,“making peace through his blood,shed on the cross.” Our peace with God does not come through works nor is it maintained through works;it comes only through and is maintained only by the shed blood of Christ.
The word “through” in Romans 5:1 regards a “channel” through which something is realized. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice alone has realized our peace with God. Our works cannot set us right nor can they keep us set right. The first four chapters of Romans clearly state this righteousness comes in response to faith and not works. Therefore,we should reject any notion suggesting otherwise.
As I was praying about FFC’s ministry vision for the coming months,God showed me a picture of a can of spray paint. Immediately,I began to ask questions as to how His vision for us and the spray paint were related.
It seemed that the “can”represented our governmental structure,our systems of ministry and our physical presence in this region. I sensed the Lord was pleased with the church noting its soundness and health. It seemed to me the contents of the can represented two things:the believers at FFC who have been gifted by the Holy Spirit for ministry and the Holy Spirit who empowers and directs each believer in their ministry. As it regarded the contents of the can,I sensed the Lord wanted to bring some correction. This correction concerned how the individual paint particles (members of the church) interact with each other and,subsequently,with the Holy Spirit.
At this point,God showed me what He wants our ministry to look like in the coming years. It was as though God pressed the nozzle of our can and a vivid and lustrous stream of paint began to flow. The color of the paint was unique;indescribable;it was a color I had never seen. The paint graced various objects that desperately needed restoration. It seemed to me the can was being aimed by God Himself. Within seconds of being sprayed,each object was restored to its original,pristine condition. It seemed to me these objects represented the lives of sin-broken people and fractured churches.
Then God showed me what He doesn’t want our ministry to look like in the coming years. As the nozzle was pressed this time a thin,intermittent stream of paint sputtered from the can. The color of the paint was ordinary,lifeless and dull. The paint was unable to cover the objects on which it was sprayed. The paint began to run,streak and splotch and,ultimately,made the objects look even worse than before. It also seemed the can was being aimed without any Divine direction or purpose.
At this point I sensed God asking me,“Do you know what caused the striking difference in these two pictures?” With no obvious answer at hand,the Lord went on to say,“In order to understand the difference,read the label on the back of the can.” At this point,I actually went to our laundry room,retrieved a can of spray paint and began to read.
Reading on,I read what I truly believe God wants us to see:“Shake well before using!”
With these words it seemed as though God was saying,“I have brought Faith Family Church to a new moment in ministry. I want to entrust to you an even greater influence and impact in this region. However,there is something missing in your corporate preparation. If this lack is not addressed it will keep you from fully realizing this divine moment.”
It was at this point,God stirred me to reread Acts 2:42. As I read,it seemed God was challenging my understanding of the word “devoted”as it relates to the four factors of the early church. These practices include a devotion to God’s Word,a devotion to fellowship,a devotion to worship and a devotion to corporate prayer.
It seemed to me God was saying,“In order to correct this,I must first SHAKE you well before using you.” Immediately,I interpreted this as a negative but God immediately spoke to my fears saying,“This shaking can be pleasant or it can be painful;it depends on the response and attitude of my people.”
So how does this work? Spray paint contains two basic ingredients:aerosol and paint. The aerosol is an oily element to which the paint adheres and is propelled from the can to do what paint is designed to do. For us,the aerosol is,of course,the presence and power of the Holy Spirit among us. The paint,which is a water-based element,represents every born-again believer at FFC who can be sent out to minister God’s amazingly colorful grace.
So why is the paint can to be shaken? Shaking properly mix the two elements of oil and water. As the can,or church,is shaken,the water-based paint bonds to the oil and becomes a unique mixture that can be properly thrust from the can to do what it’s been created to do.
So what might this “shaking” mean to FFC? It seemed to me God is saying:“I want FFC to be the church described in Acts 2:42. I want my people at FFC to do more than just agree with this,I want them to embrace it and live it out.” At this point,it seemed God emphasized the importance of His leaders at FFC embracing this call of devotion to both God and His people in this place. It is a call to intentional community. At this point I feel certain God warned that any leader or member who refused to respond would only serve to clog the nozzle of the can restricting the flow of God’s grace.
I sensed any resistance to deeper community would frustrate God’s grace,impede His kingdom purpose,and grieve the Holy Spirit. At this point God reminded me that His shaking can be either pleasant or painful;it depends on the attitude and response of his people.
So how can this shaking come with pleasantness? It requires that each of us allow God to transform the ungodly aspects of our personalities that keep us separated from our brothers and sisters. It requires that each of us walk in humility before God and one another. It requires that each of us quickly respond to the correction of the Holy Spirit.
In this,God is looking to His leaders to serve as examples. I believe it is here,at the doorstep of devoted relationships that our church stands. I trust we will humbly respond to God’s revealed Word and that we’ll repent of our shallow,unbiblical relationships with one another so FFC can realize the wonder of its continually unfolding mission in the world. Let the painting begin!
The measure of life,after all,is not its duration but its donation. (Corrie ten Boom)
Americans spend billions each year trying to defy the laws of aging. Using supplements,vitamins,creams,pills,workouts or diets,bamboozled consumers buy into the promise of Madison Avenue’s to extend the duration of our lives.
While lots of folks spend huge amounts of time and money trying to increase the duration of their lives,very few even ask how they can make a greater donation with their lives. While writing,I had to stop and ask myself the question,“Jamie,what do you think about more,duration or donation?”
Now that I’ve reached the age of fifty,I can honestly say I think more about the donation of my life. However,it hasn’t always been that way. We’ve all know people who lived long lives but failed to ever live beyond themselves. And we’ve all known those special ones who’ve died young but,in the course of their short life,made an incredible donation in the lives of others.
No one is promised tomorrow. Therefore,the crux of the matter isn’t duration it’s donation. To start living a life of donation,I encourage you to start each day with a simple prayer like this one:
“God,remind today that life is more about donation than it is duration. Help me be a gift to everyone I meet today. Help me think about me less and more about others.”
Here’s something else I’ve learned in my fifty years —making a donation into someone’s life doesn’t require you to do something massive. Simple acts of kindness can make an enormous difference. So go ahead,make that phone call of thanks,write that note of encouragement,send that email of appreciation or simply pray that secret prayer for the one you know God has put on your heart. Let the donations begin.